|Today’s Sprint Race at Istanbul Park in Turkey will be one to forget for Spain’s Racing Engineering with Dani Clos once again struggling with his tyres and Christian Vietoris an early retirement.
Following yesterday’s difficult Feature Race, Racing Engineering were hoping that overnight changes to their cars would help them deal with excessive tyre wear on the new Pirelli design and with Clos starting on pole and Vietoris 11th on the grid hopes were high of a good result.
Fortunately today’s weather was warm and sunny and as the lights went off Clos jumped into an immediate lead as the cars were running two abreast on a frantic opening lap and at the end on lap one Clos was leading from Coletti with Vietoris moving up to 7th. Lap 2 saw Clos extend his lead to 0.8 seconds whilst Vietoris was battling hard with Bird.
Sadly it was all over for Vietoris on the next lap when he hit the tyre wall at Turn 3 following a brake problem and was an immediate retirement. Clos continued to lead with Coletti closing the gap and on lap 6 the Trident car was right on the tail of the red and yellow Racing Engineering Dallara. Coletti tried the inside line at Turn 12 but Clos held on and for the next four corners the two cars ran side-by-side through the corners but the first signs of tyre problems were afflicting Clos and he had to give way on the next lap.
Clos now found himself losing ground to third-placed man Van Der Garde and two laps later the young Spaniard was down to 3rd. Clos was now running almost a second a lap slower than the cars around him and Ericsson quickly closed the gap and demoted Clos to 6th. The Racing Engineering car was now really struggling, as were several other drivers, and lap times were now some 2.5 seconds a lap slower than the front runners and when he lost another place to Fauzy on lap 17 and dropped out of a points scoring position Clos pitted for new tyres.
Just as Clos left the track a collision on the start/finish line saw the Safety Car deployed and by the time the debris was cleared there were only two laps left and no time for Clos to make any impression and he finished a disappointed 15th.
The GP2 Series now moves to Barcelona in two weeks’ time and Racing Engineering will be working hard to allow their drivers, who have both shown race winning pace, to be able to run consistently at the front.
Dani Clos: “We started the weekend quite well with free practice and qualifying. For the races we still have to work a lot, but we hope to be on the top in Barcelona. I have a lot of confidence in the team and I know we won't take long in being at the front.”
Christian Vietoris: “This was a kind of up and down weekend. We were very good in free practice, qualifying was not as good as expected. It was a hard weekend. The tyres reacted strangely in race 1. In race 2 I had a good start and was able to manage the tyres well. Unfortunately I suffered from a problem with the brakes. I was fighting with Bird at that stage, so I think we could have aimed for the podium.”
Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón, president of Racing Engineering: “Very upset with today's results. We have to see why Vietoris' brakes failed, it is not normal and we will look into it thoroughly. As for Dani, the Pirelli tyres are very complicated to understand, very inconsistent. So we need to work to understand how to find a proper working solution for Barcelona. Anyway, the boys did a great job all weekend and aside from the result and the tyres, I am happy with the teamwork.”